Build your product first, then get customers — Who started the lie?

**I found this post sitting in my draft folder from 5 years ago. Decided to published all of my draft posts today without editing.***

I meet a lot of early staged entrepreneurs interested in building either a web or mobile application. However, when asked about their current customers, their response is that they want to build the product first so they can go get customers.

Software development is expensive. In addition, without customers, you have no idea of what product is needed. At this stage, what you think you need to build is only an assumption. (I usually get an objection when I start telling people this part.) Many people ensure that they’ve talked to their friends and everyone thinks its a good idea. Great, easy solution, then go back to everyone and ask them to pay and become one of the first customers. (This is where I hear a multitude of excuses)

If you’re thinking about building a profitable tech business, then you need paying customers. There are many ways to acquire paying customers before spending an excessive amount of money on web and mobile development costs. I suggest finding 5 – 10 paying customers. (btw, this part isn’t easy as well.) Find your customers by asking for introductions in your network. Meet with your potential customers, ask them to pay in advance. If you can find 5 – 10 people who are willing to do so, you’re already to a great start. After finding a paying customer, start by offering your product as a service. ie If you want to build a platform to connect moms to daycares. Manually, email moms a list of daycare providers and ask them to choose one. Then set up appointments for them to visit the daycare in person.

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About Hadiyah

Software Engineer, Entrepreneur, and Startup Aficionado. I co-founded a student venture firm for students at historically black colleges, HBCUvc, software development agency, Playpen Labs, and Black Founders nonprofit.